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Unsuccessful IVF & thinning scalp hair density – what’s the connection?

Unsuccessful IVF & thinning scalp hair density – what’s the connection?

The Scenario: Young woman in her 20’s actively but unsuccessfully attempting to become pregnant. Similarly late 30’s – early 40’s woman aware of her ‘biologic clock’ & desperately seeking assistance with fertility enhancement from one of the reputable clinics in this field.

Hormonal therapy is undertaken; medication to suppress menstruation, temperature charts, sperm count investigation for the husband/partner – regimens, time and significant monetary expenditure.

Hopes are raised of successful fertility – and just as quickly dashed. Or ‘pregnancy’ is temporarily achieved followed by devastating miscarriage within weeks or within the 1st trimester. This situation often repeats itself for many months or even years until the couple are out of money and lost all hope.

The Hair Loss Connection: In my time as a Trichologist specialising in female hair & scalp problems, I have seen about 5-10 women from the above scenario; one or two were referred directly from other clients or family specifically for their infertility issues & not particularly for hair loss.

Most of these clients had consulted me for thinning scalp hair concerns & mentioned as part of their history they had previously (& unsuccessfully) undertaken (or were currently engaged in) fertility programs.

As hair loss in women is almost always an indicator of underlying deficiency or metabolic-hormonal disturbance, my consistent approach is to assess causative factors in these areas.

In EVERY Client I can recall there were nutrient deficiencies, or metabolic/hormonal disturbance of significant scale which was the root cause of their scalp hair density thinning. If a woman’s body cannot support her hair growth, how is it ever going to support another developing human being inside her?

Scalp hair follicles in humans have an unique incongruity about them – hair it is one of the most metabolically-active tissues of the body; continually growing and requiring high available nutrient-metabolic & hormonal support to achieve this. However in these same terms, it is a NON-essential tissue for body functioning & receives its nutrient-metabolic-hormonal support only when all essential body tissues – such as liver function, skin & muscle repair – have been satisfied.

The common but (often) overlooked cause/s for infertility: Iron, Vitamin D, Iodine, Zinc & Selenium – mostly in that order- are the five most important nutrients for optimal metabolic functioning. Essentially -and by virtue of their ‘femaleness’ – women are more prone to be deficient in most these nutrients than are males.

As a NON-essential skin appendage (in nutrient-metabolic-hormonal terms) hair is habitually the first tissue to have these supports withdrawn when body levels are depleting.

Excessive hair loss or steady thinning of scalp hair density (or the onset of an autoimmune condition in the predisposed) is often the initial sign of internal disturbance or deficiency.

Hormonal influences are: T3 (active thyroid hormone – Triiodothyronine), Vitamin D (D3) & Cortisol (CC) receptors must all be in balance – and have the above-named nutrients at optimal target levels* for effective thyroid/metabolic function – and healthy hair growth. T3 thyroid hormone is considered the most important hormone for metabolic functioning (Van Zanden 2012)**

My results: once the deficiencies and/or metabolic-hormonal disturbance was corrected, every client (to my knowledge) both recovered their scalp hair density and PRESTO (in time) became pregnant without any fertility intervention. Some of these women have now given birth to one or two more children since I last saw them – one even called her first son ‘Anthony’!!

Take home point: As a woman always know that YOU know your body better than anyone else; you live in it & you know ‘how’ it should feel & operate!! Never have your concerns minimised or dismissed as trivial or ‘that’s just what happens’ – particularly if you are experiencing scalp hair loss together with constant tiredness, sensitivity to cooler temperatures (or changes in temperature); mood disturbance, poor concentration/poor sleep or unexplained fluctuations in weight (unless you are pregnant!!)

Important note to pregnant women: excessive scalp hair loss in a 2nd-3rd trimester woman should not occur, & is considered a contradiction of the hormonal-mediated influences on hair growth during pregnancy. Again it usually reflects nutrient reserves of the mother are becoming compromised, or the onset of metabolic disturbance.***

All nutrients are essential to the optimal development of a new human being but some are particularly essential; Iodine for brain development & IQ. Vitamin D deficiency in a pregnant woman predisposes her child to autism. The Canadian Paediatric Society warns that significant Vitamin D deficiency in the mother will condemn the child to a life of poor health: Canadian Paediatric Society. Vitamin D supplementation: Recommendations for Canadian mothers and infants. Paediatr Child Health 2007;12(7):583-9 + Cannell JJ. Autism and Vitamin D. Med Hypotheses 2008;70(4):750-9.

*’target’ nutrient levels for optimal hair growth are at least 50-75% of the respective reference range for each nutrient

**(Chan: 2016) suggests Melatonin is considered the “master hormone” which also regulates t3.

*** Pregnancy-induced thyroid dysfunction, hypertension or blood glucose issue

Copyright 2016 – Anthony Pearce